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Newcomer’s Guide to Dallas

Why I Love Uptown

Dallas' most walkable neighborhood is much more than McKinney Avenue nightlife.
By Caitlin Clark |
Photography by Josh Blaylock

I’ll be the first to admit that my decision to move to Uptown was influenced by what most would consider a standard SMU post-graduation protocol. Everyone I knew was doing it, so I swam upstream right alongside them.

My roommate and I moved into a small apartment in a shiny new complex. All my other friends were just a five- to 10-minute walk away. I even had a little convenience store downstairs where I could get milk and Stouffer’s Mac and Cheese. My first year in the neighborhood was a lot like my first year of college really, just with paychecks and way less vacation time.

But just as my lifestyle and perspective continued to change throughout my sophomore, junior, and senior years, so did the way I viewed my little Uptown bubble over time. At first we were all content to go where everyone else was going. Sunday brunches were big, as was the line to get into Katy Trail Ice House. We stuck to a steady rotation of about four different McKinney Avenue bars. Everywhere you went you’d see at least a handful of people you knew. I gained a solid understanding of why Norm and Cliff loved Cheers so darn much.

The first year out of college is intimidating to say the least, and sticking with the herd and creating routines was an easy way to start settling into life without House Moms and RAs. But as much as I respect the comfort of repetition, it didn’t take long for the novelty of those four bars to wear off. There are only so many Sundays you’ll agree to wait an hour for brunch until you start wondering what else is out there. Boozy Saturdays spent posted up at picnic tables are great, but not every weekend. Surely there was more to this shiny, youthful neighborhood than Fireball shots and Stanley Korshak.

Then I figured something out: Uptown is an extremely walkable area. I’m embarrassed to say how long it took me to notice that, but it completely changed my view of the neighborhood. I was living on my own in a studio when I discovered could travel on foot to my job downtown (big), or to my yoga class in the State Thomas area (huge), or to work, then yoga, and then home for the evening (life changing). It was during these many little solo walks, ear buds in, feeling like a true urban dweller, that I first began to truly fall in love with Uptown.

I was certainly made aware of the less flattering elements of the neighborhood’s reputation when I moved there, but the more that Uptown and I get acquainted, the less I understand it. The “$30K millionaires” really only come out of the woodwork on Saturday nights. By late Sunday afternoon, they’re nowhere to be seen. Families are becoming a more familiar sight during my post-work walks, as are young couples moving into the area’s new or architecturally significant older homes. Uptown may be known for its construction cranes and flashy new buildings, but there are plenty of charming, historical finds once you start looking past its shiny surface.

I love quiet mornings on the Katy Trail or trips to nearby Eatzi’s before a Turtle Creek or Klyde Warren Park picnic. I could spend whole Saturdays eating and shopping around Knox Street or treasure hunting at Fairmount’s little cottages-turned-shops, like Blue Print or The Loveliest. The McKinney Avenue Trolley, though slightly intimidating at first, is always a welcome sight. Once you decode its online tracker and figure out how to tell the conductor that you want to get off, it becomes much less daunting.

Every corner of the neighborhood has its own strengths. My little apartment at Pearl and Cedar Springs close proximity to my favored restaurants, bars, and even nail places, but is just far enough away from the action to feel secluded. Victorian-era homes and the leafy streets of State Thomas set the scene for one of the most charming walks in Dallas, and most Uptown dwellers could be perfectly content to stay in West Village for an entire weekend, especially if they found good parking.

Though my move to Uptown wasn’t carefully plotted or researched, I couldn’t be happier with where I ended up. From a safe, exciting new place to call home after leaving the comfort of campus, to an interconnected, urban community with an ever-evolving collection of unique local haunts, Uptown has always been exactly what I needed it to be.

Caitlin Clark, online editor for D Home, has lived in Uptown since 2012.

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